Introducing Sponsored Connections

We are very excited to announce a new model of paid content that we’re calling Sponsored Connections.

Most people consume sponsored content (also called SponCon) on a daily basis without even knowing it. Advertisers pay media companies to publish journalistic articles that seem to follow the editorial ethics and opinions of the outlet but are usually little more than an elaborate press release.

The worst part of SponCon is how enthusiastically its hidden. Disclaimers are often tiny, designed to be missed, or left out all together. Another pitfall of SponCon is it’s typically only available to companies with huge budgets.

At Variable West, we’re dedicated to operational transparency, but we also need an operating budget. Enter: Sponsored Connections.

To avoid any confusion about whose ideas you’re reading, Sponsored Connections will always be in interview format. We also want to extend the visibility of paid content to organizations that might not have a big (or any) marketing budget. That’s why each Sponsored Connection features a pairing: The fee paid by one organization covers an interview with its representative and another interview with a representative from an organization with a smaller operating budget.

Sponsored Connections offers us a way to embed community support in our advertising model, and we’re pretty excited about it. Check out our previously produced Sponsored Connections here.

Interested in working with us? Email to learn more about pricing and options.

Eden Redmond standing in front of a cement wall with light and dark texture. She wears a vibrant, tomato red blouse and has buzzed brown hair. She smiles at the camera.

Eden Redmond Joins Variable West as Partnerships Coordinator

Eden Redmond standing in front of a cement wall with light and dark texture. She wears a vibrant, tomato red blouse and has buzzed brown hair. She smiles at the camera.

We’re so happy to announce that Eden Redmond has joined the Variable West team. As Partnerships Coordinator, Eden will cultivate collaborative relationships that enable Variable West to effectively increase engagement with the West Coast art world. She will identify and nurture relationships through dynamic program development and sustainable fundraising partnerships.

Eden Redmond (she/her) is an arts writer and fundraiser based in the Pacific Northwest. Breaking from the exploitative legacies of capitalism, Eden’s creative partnership work depends on dignified relationships and sharing resources in collective abundance. 

Eden also serves as the Director of Operations at Signal Fire, where she shapes and funds programming connecting artists, activists, and Indigenous communities in the fight for land justice. 

Learn more about Eden on her website. 

Want to work with us? Get in touch with Eden at

Justin Duyao sitting at a small wooden table on a beach in the late afternoon. Justin has brown hair, and has his elbow propped on the table with his head resting in his hand. He smiles at the camera.

Announcing Variable West’s Editorial Apprenticeship

Justin Duyao sitting at a small wooden table on a beach in the late afternoon. Justin has brown hair, and has his elbow propped on the table with his head resting in his hand. He smiles at the camera.

We are thrilled to announce that Justin Duyao is Variable West’s inaugural Editorial Apprentice for the spring 2021 semester.

Justin is a writer, editor, and student with a BA in English Literature from Harding University. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is pursing an MA in Critical Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. His interests include studies of consciousness, sociolinguistics, and gender.

The VW Editorial Apprenticeship is a semester-long paid program that allows emerging writers and editors to learn how an online journal works while expanding their art writing practice. In addition to assisting with daily tasks such as website and social media management, apprentices receive reading and writing assignments, participate in discussions, and will take ownership of Variable West’s Love Letters column.

Apprentices receive a stipend of $2,000. This year’s program is made possible through a collaboration with the MA in Critical Studies program at PNCA.

Magenta wiggly, sans serif Variable Voice logo on a bright turquoise background

Introducing Variable Voice: Letter from the Editor

Variable Voice logo in a wiggly magenta, sans serif font

Over the past ten years, my life as an art writer has only been possible because of the support and trust of mentors and colleagues. Editors took chances on me, professors encouraged me and helped me make connections, and I swapped editorial feedback with my network of peers. These interactions were absolutely essential to my growth as a young writer, yet they feel like an impossibility in today’s new world of cascading closures, cancellations, and social isolation.

The media and publishing worlds have been in trouble for a while—years before the pandemic—with countless magazines, newspapers, journals, and blogs shutting down, often abruptly, citing a lack of financial sustainability. Two of these recent deaths hit me particularly hard: The Village Voice in 2018, and Art Practical earlier this year. To me, both publications represent environments where emerging writers could learn about the business, develop their voice, and build their career. Their absences leave a palpable void—one I am determined to fill in whatever way I can.

With that in mind, I’m relaunching Variable West’s editorial venture as the online journal Variable Voice. You can expect exhibition reviews, essays, interviews, Love Letters, and other series that try to find a balance between generous, accessible language, zealously researched topics, and experimental prose that challenges the conventions of each format.

Of course, I could never replace these two publishing legacies, but I am deeply inspired by what they both did for art criticism and writing. No other art journals have dedicated as much care and passion to the West Coast art ecosystem as Art Practical. No other newspaper—alternative or mainstream—compares to The Village Voice‘s radical, celebratory, razor sharp criticism and journalism. I hope to infuse the essences of both these publications in everything we produce in Variable Voice.

You might be thinking: Sure, great ideas, but how will we stay afloat when so much of the publishing world is drowning? That’s where our incredible community comes in. By becoming a monthly subscriber or making a one time donation, you can help reinvigorate, sustain, and expand West Coast art writing and scholarship. Plus, I’ll be hustling everyday to find new funding opportunities. We’re extremely fortunate to have received a grant from Critical Minded, which will help us start with some real momentum.

Head to the Variable Voice page to see what we have published so far, and stay tuned for more!

I’m so excited for this new adventure, and can’t wait to share it with you.


Amelia Rina

Founder and Editor,
Variable West

Variable West Receives Critical Minded Arts Writing Grant

We are thrilled to announce that Variable West has received a $5,000 grant from Critical Minded. The funds will be used to commission exhibition reviews, essays, and interviews from outstanding arts writers on the West Coast.

As if that weren’t great enough, the inimitable Ashley Stull Meyers will act as a guest editor of the Critical Minded series. Stull Meyers is a fierce advocate for West Coast arts and art writing, and has curated exhibitions and public programming for a diverse set of arts institutions along the West Coast. She served as the Northwest Editor for Art Practical, and her writing has been featured in BOMB Magazine, Daily Serving, The Exhibitionist, among other publications.

This project is supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to invest in cultural critics of color cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

A bright and colorful pastel and graphite drawing with one, neon pink person reclining horizontally next to a pale pink person with short green hair

Love Letter to Pace Taylor

A bright and colorful pastel and graphite drawing with one, neon pink person reclining horizontally next to a pale pink person with short green hair
Pace Taylor, Place, becoming Feeling. Feeling, becoming Place, 2020

Of all the effects of social distancing, the one I’m struggling with the most is the psychological exposure. Emotions feel particularly raw, and I find myself missing both solitude and community. Portland-based artist Pace Taylor captures these conflicting desires in expansive fields of soft pastel and leaden graphite details. In The mirror world seems a dangerous place (2020)—which I first encountered via Taylor’s Instagram takeover in Third Room’s online artist series “Inside”—a figure holds a hand to their face in a gesture of exhaustion, frustration, confusion, or sadness. Graphite adds details and contrast with astonishing specificity, despite loose, expressionist marks. Two thin, teal circles float in front of the face, forming a Venn diagram with no specified sets. Or, the things being compared are contrasting mental states within the subject. Further emphasizing a sense of conflict, Taylor’s color pallet is both electric and flat. In Place, becoming Feeling. Feeling, becoming Place (2020), a fuchsia reclining figure vibrates with chromatic intensity as another figure sits by their side. This act of untroubled intimacy feels like an impossibility these days, but Taylor offers a visual vocabulary for dreaming of better times.

Love Letter to jayy dodd

jayy dodd, Vulture + Down (still), 2020

This video is the perfect world to get lost in during quarantine. Included as a part of the online exhibition Mirror Economy at Ori Gallery, Vulture + Down (2020) by Portland-based artist jayy dodd was filmed and produced in part while dodd was at the Zigzag Poetry Residency in Zigzag, Oregon. It makes sense that the piece emerged from what I assume was a time of concentrated art making; the scenes progress with a rare combination of precision and stream of consciousness. “I cost, I want, and it costs to want this,” recites dodd over footage of her in a coniferous forest before transitioning into a gorgeous and heartbreaking rendition of the chorus from “I Want It Now!” originally sung by Veruca Salt. Later, dodd croons: “I would like to get to know if I could be enough” in the a-frame loft at Zigzag. The original and appropriated texts question system of value and conventions of intimacy as dodd’s voice and body digitally distort and multiply. We are all bodies in flux. A soundtrack of electronic music produced by dodd bookends the piece, fusing the narrative’s linear ends into a cycle that can and should be watched on repeat.